Legal age for smoking could be raised to 21 among ‘radical’ measures to tackle the habit

8 June 2022, 13:56

More must be done to help smokers in hospital kick the habit, a new review has concluded
More must be done to help smokers in hospital kick the habit, a new review has concluded. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

Radical plans to slash the number of smokers in Britain are expected to be unveiled this week, including a proposal to raise the legal smoking age to 21.

A review commissioned by health secretary Said David and Javed Khan, the former chief executive of Barnados, is expected to arrive tomorrow as the government aims to reduce the number of smokers in Britain to 5 per cent of the adult population by 2030.

An industry source told the Guardian that measures in the review are ‘very radical’.

It is also understood to include a tobacco levy and increasing the purchase age of cigarettes every 12 months, with the aim of eventually banning sales altogether.

In an interview before his review, Mr Khan warned the target to have just 5% of people smoking by 2030 would not be met without action from the government to restrict sales.

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A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “Tackling issues such as smoking is a priority for the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities and a key part of the government’s levelling up agenda.

“This is why we launched the independent review of our bold ambition to make England smoke free by 2030.”

A review released today found more must be done to help smokers in hospital kick the habit.

It found that less than 1% of smokers manage to quit after a hospital stay.

The British Thoracic Society's (BTS) audit of hospital-based services which help people quit smoking found that "little" progress has been made to help smokers who are in hospital get the help they need to quit.

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The authors warned that opportunities have been missed to help improve the health of sick smokers and reduce premature deaths.

The review examined data on 120 hospitals from across the UK and found:

  • One in five hospitals still offer dedicated smoking areas for patients
  • Only 9% of smokers received an assessment with a smoking specialist while in hospital
  • Only 5% were given a quit aid.

The review found that of 2,400 people who smoked and were admitted to hospital, just one was given a vaping kit.

The authors said just 3% of smokers admitted to hospital attended a follow-up service to check on their quit attempt after they were sent home from hospital.

And less than 1% were recorded to be "successfully abstinent post discharge", the authors wrote.

They also suggested that hospital staff are "ill prepared to support current smokers in their efforts to quit", with only half of trusts offering frontline staff regular training in helping people stop smoking.

Dr Matt Evison, BTS clinical audit lead, said: "This audit unfortunately shows that we are still struggling to make meaningful progress in helping patients quit smoking at a national level.

"While the results are disappointing today, I am looking at this audit as the start - the baseline against which we now need to improve."

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